- God’s plan for one last judgment against the Egyptians (1-4)
- Pharaoh changes his mind once again and pursues the Israelites (5-9)
- The Israelites are afraid (10-12)
- God’s plan re-iterated (13-18)
- The Angel of God protects them (19-20)
- The Red Sea is parted and the Egyptian army drowns following the Israelites (21-31)
Why did God ask the Israelites to camp in that specific spot?
What would Pharaoh think had happened? Why would Pharaoh think they were boxed in?
What was God’s purpose in this last trap for Pharaoh?
- God had a plan the whole time. While the Israelites might actually have been confused as to why they were there instead of on their way to the Promised Land, God knew the reason.
- Pharaoh must have sent spies to follow them to gain intel. This was how he knew where they were and it was how knew they were boxed in with seemingly no way out.
- God hardened Pharaoh’s heart one more time. Remember that Pharaoh hardened it many times first and still was hardening it by sending spies to follow the people of Israel.
- This was yet another battle between God and the pagan gods of Egypt, between Moses, the follower of God and Pharaoh, the follower of the false gods. There is one clash after another and after another. God doesn’t want to leave any doubt whatsoever in anyone’s mind as to who is the true God and who the deceivers are. This one more miracle of punishment would show that God’s controlis exerted anywhere and that all the plagues back in Egypt weren’t just a rare fluke.
Describe Pharaoh and his officials’ attitudes in your own words? Why do you think they didn’t seem to care about all the plagues that had come on them? What does this tell us about sin and our minds? Do you think in normal circumstances 600 chariots would be enough to win a battle against 600,000 men? Why or why not?
Did Pharaoh go with his army or not? Where do you see the answer?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- Pharaoh and his officials were egotistical. They were concerned for Egypt’s economy now that they were forced to do work by themselves. It was almost as if the society was so lazy and unwilling to work that they were willing to face all kinds of punishment just to avoid working. Regardless of the reasons, they didn’t want to lose this economic force. After a brief consultation Pharaoh decided to try to bring the people back by force. This time his counselors appear to have agreed with him. This would have been a good time for somebody to stand up to Pharaoh and demand that he back down for the good and safety of the Egyptians and Egypt as a whole. However, no one did step up. No politician was brave enough to risk Pharaoh’s wrath eve though he was maniacal.
- Apparently Pharaoh had a very short memory. It took only days to forget all the things that God had done in Egypt. It took only days to forget his concession speech and his defeat. It took him only days to forget that his country was in ruins, that his priests and pagan gods were worthless. It took him only days to forget that at least one member of every houehold in Egypt ad someone dead in it He was leaving behind a legacy of death and destruction, but in his zest and pride, he forgot all of this. This is not surprising because it is people’s natures to have short memories. Many of those who saw Jesus’ signs and believed soon turned away from Him because following Him was difficult. Any other examples of people with short memories in the Bible? Neb saw Daniel’s three friends thrown into the furnace and be saved and seemed to believe, but later he became prideful and exalted himself again to the point where God humbled him by making him lose his mind for 7 years. Laban forgot quickly it was through God blessing Jacob that he was enriched and instead wanted all for himself. The guy who cursed David forgot Solomon’s promise not to execute him if he stayed in his own town and went out and died for it. Why do you think people forget so easily?
- People tend to forget the things they want to forget and remember the things they want to remember. Pharaoh and his people didn’t want to remember that God was supreme. They wanted to put it out of their minds and hope that next time would be different. Having a relationship with God based only on signs or something good happening in your life could be very fragile too because if something bad happens they may think God deserted them. In the last few chapters we have studied about the memorials God instituted. They were a reminder to teach the Israelites not to forget and we should not forget either. Contrast Egyptians forgetting and the Israelites command to remember.
- At that time chariots were to wars like air craft carriers were 50 years ago. Chariots were the ultimate fighting weapons at that time and for hundreds/thousands of years later. Infantry stood little chance fighting against chariots. Although Israel had 600,000 men remember that these were not men of war, had never fought, had never been trained to fight, didn’t have weapons, and wouldn’t have been organized. They also wouldn’t have had horses or chariots. Tactically, they were unfamiliar with the ground AND they were burdened with women and children to care for. In a real fight, it wouldn’t have been a fight at all, but a slaughter.
How did the Israelites feel when they saw the Egyptians? How would you describe their faith? Why do you think their faith was so weak even though they saw so many miracles? What does this tell you about people in general? Do you think most people today are like the Israelites then?
Where did they turn for help? Does this give any insight into any further reasons God might have had for bringing the Egyptian army there?
Why would they say that in verse 12? Don’t you think they wanted to be free?
- As soon as the Israelites realized the Egyptians were pursuing them their boldness in verse 8 turned into terror. Their fear shows that their faith was very weak. It seems that they too had already forgotten all of God’s miracles to protect them. In the face of this new threat they didn’t have a quiet confidence that God would deliver them. Instead they were thrown into panic. See: Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah 41:10. This kind of attitude is pretty typical and is an example of the highs and lows of our faith. Typically believers will feel high and confident right after a victory, a success, or an answer to prayer that shows God is listening. But when the next trial comes along, many will lose faith or begin to worry again.
- This trial was a very real object lesson to help the Israelite’s faith. God had a reason for doing it. One was to show everyone who the real God was and finalize His victory over the Egyptians and their God and to completely humble the land for its pride. The other was to show the Israelites again that He would protect them, that they actually had nothing to fear. Later during their time in the wilderness He would remind them again and again that He had delivered them from the Egyptians and parted the red sea.
- The Israelites did cry out to the Lord, which is to their credit. Difficult circumstances tend to cause people to turn to God, especially when they have no hope to solve the problem on their own. Turning to God shows humility, but sometimes also desperation.
- Notice right after the text says they turned to the Lord, we see that they are complaining to Moses and expecting to die. They don’t have a quiet confidence in the Lord. This is the first of many times that they will complain to Moses and show interest in returning to Egypt. Why complain so much? I believe the core issue is their faith, or more correctly, their lack of it. If they expected big things of God they wouldn’t be worried about the Egyptian army or the warriors in the Promised Land or a shortage of water or a shortage of meat. They would know God’s character. They would believe He would supply all of their needs as God promises in Php 4:19. Actually it would seem very odd for God to do all of those miracles to lead them out of Egypt only to let them be killed by the Egyptian army days or weeks later.
Did Moses talk with God before or after reassuring the people? If he didn’t talk to God yet, how did he know that God would fight for them them and they would never see the Egyptians again? What does this show us about Moses’ faith? Contrast Moses as we saw him at the beginning of Exodus with Moses now perhaps only 7 months later. What does this tell us about the process of maturity and the elements necessary to become mature?
What did God tell Moses to do? What was His plan?
What did the Israelites have to do? Can you think of any other examples in the Bible where God did similar feats fighting for His people?
If an unbeliever asked you why God would want to exact further judgment on the Egyptians even when the Israelites were already gone, what would you say?
- We see here Moses’ continued growth and maturity. At the beginning of Exodus, I think he might have joined the chorus right along with the people questioning God. But now there is no hesitation. There is no fear. There is no doubt and no questioning. Moses calmly reassures the people. He reassured the people evidently before even talking with God and hearing directly from God that God would save the people. Yet he could speak with this confidence because he knew God’s character. He knew who God was. He knew God would not allow them to die. He knew that God would save them. He knew through experience. And he knew because He had a relationship to God.
- This tells me that developing a strong faith in God doesn’t necessarily take a long time or a lifetime. Maturing and growing is a process, but we don’t have to wait to have strong faith in God. Our everyday experiences, trials, and time in the Word can strengthen our faith. Let us aim to be like the confident Moses we see here instead of the doubting Moses at the beginning of the book.
- He said that the Lord would fight for them while they keep silent. See: Deuteronomy 1:30, 1 Sam 17:47, 2 Ch 14:10-11, 20:15. God did this many times for them throughout their history. Not every time though, many times they had a more active role. But whether their role was active or passive, God fought for them, sometimes visibly and sometimes invisibly. Will God do this today? Yes, see Romans 8:28. God works circumstances out for our good.
- God seemed to say “you” in verse 15 referring to all the Israelites. Evidently their crying out was confused, panicked, and desperate. It seems as if He is saying, “What are you afraid of? I am going to save you.” The Israelites did actually have some roles and that was to walk through the gap created when the waters were separated. Apparently they had to actually start moving towards the water before it was separated. This would have required obeying and having faith without seeing.
- The text tells us the reason God hardened Pharaoh’s hearts and his army’s. It was to prove once and for all He was the true God. This was the last and perhaps most impressive miracle in a long line of miracles leading the Israelites out of Egypt. It showed God’s power in an amazing display that the people of Israel should never forget. As for God’s justice all the same reasons God was fair in the tenth plague apply here. Besides this was war. Of course God will choose the side of His own people.
Who is the Angel of God?
Remember the purpose of the cloud?
Why did He move behind them? What does this tell us about God’s character? Will God similarly protect His people today?
- The Angel of God appears to be either God the Father, or Jesus in His pre-incarnate form. The fact that He appears in the cloud just like God did talking to Moses is strong evidence. Also throughout the OT this time and the one like it, “Angel of the Lord” both seem to be refer to God.
- God protected them from the Egyptians for the night (I guess it would have been hard to walk through the sea at night time). Movies depict this as the pillar of fire spreading out making a wall of fire separating the camps. This depiction seems accurate based on the text. This is yet another example of God protecting them. The phrase God being a “hedge of protection” around someone or something comes partially from this verse. He made an actual barrier to protect them.
What was the purpose of the east wind? How would the ground normally be at the bottom of a sea even if all the water was gone for some reason? How was the ground in this case? How easy do you think it would be for 2 million people to cross through mud?
How could the Egyptians pursue if the Angel of God was still between them?
What insights can we glean from verse 24?
What was their conclusion when they had such difficulty driving? What does this show about their rational ability to understand the things that had happened to this point? Would their reaction fit with merely natural explanations such as “the ground was muddy?”
What lessons can we learn from this event, crossing the Red Sea?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- Somehow God used the wind to help part the waters, and also to dry the ground. The ground needed to be dried because it would have been thick mud, almost impossible for one person to walk through, much less 2 million plush many animals. Many scientists have tried to use natural explanations to explain how they could have crossed on dry ground. God could have used some natural phenomenons. Even if He did, it would have been miraculous they occurred just at that time when they were about to be slaughtered and ended just when they got to the other side. They could not have known those things on their own. However, the text describes it as being a wall of water on each side and says that the waters were divided. That seems to do away with any wind pushing the water all in one direction theories and only leaves some supernatural explanations. It is perhaps possible that God chose a shallow place to perform the miracle, just as it is possible that He chose a deep place. It doesn’t really matter. This was an amazing miracle. It definitely draws the attention and curiosity of all kinds of people. The movie, the Ten Commandments, which attempted to duplicate this feat used two clear glass walls to push water back for filming the scene. This movie was and is considered an all time classic largely because of its Red Sea scene. How much more spectacular must the real thing have been! God wanted to make another demonstration of His power and this certainly accomplished that.
- God slowed the Egyptians down (they were in chariots while the Israelites were on foot) supernaturally. It was more than just mud. That is clear because the Egyptians too realized that God was fighting against them. This shows they were rational. They were capable of examining all the things that had happened. They were capable of understanding it was God and believing in Him. Yet because of sin and pride, they refused. They then tried to flee, but it was too late.
- God, through Moses (I think He did all these things through Moses to build him up and establish a leader in sight of the people), returned the waters back to where they were and the Egyptians drowned. Personally, I think it was pretty foolish for the Egyptians to follow the Israelites, but their greed combined with the supernatural hardening caused it to happen.
- Verse 28 says that every Egyptian which had gone into the sea died. Perhaps some did not go in, but if they did go in, they perished. This was the final nail in the coffin of Egypt’s humiliation. The great, prideful, pagan, nation who made itself rich from abusing others was now brought low and humiliated in the sight of the world. Its world renowned army had been severely damaged (there would have been some units other places). Its Pharaoh probably was killed in the waters. It population had been cut by probably at least one fourth to one third. God will likewise humble anyone who stands against Him and refuses to obey. It might happen sooner or later, but it will happen. Modern nations should take this warning to heart.
- The miracle had the desired effect, 31. The people, at least for the moment, believed.
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